Today Casablanca premiered in 1942, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865 and the Price is Right premier in 1956.

Myra & Phil closed on The Stone Manse this week.  They are in the process of moving in as we speak, how depressing, I HATE moving.  I don’t think I’d move even if someone was willing to pack my stuff up and move it.  Obviously I’m kidding about the depressing thing, how exciting.  Good luck Myra, Phil & Alex.  :)

The Trib is having their yearly Operation Santa Claus, their goal is to provide a nutritious holiday meal to 6,500 households, quite the goal.  They’re packaging non perishable food items for the meal, plus a $10 gift certificate for the meat portion of the meal.  They are taking donations at Operation Santa Claus c/o Trib Total Media, 622 Cabin Hill Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601 if you would like to help out.

Hartwood Acres has decked the mansion out for the holidays and are giving tours from ten a.m. until three p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon until four on Sundays.  The price is $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and teenagers and $2 for children.  In the evening, also through January 9, they are having the annual Festival of Lights there also.  It’s just over three miles of lighting displays.  A word of warning, weekends and as we get closer to the holidays it gets quite packed.  The money collected at the Festival of Lights goes to the Salvation Army’s Project Bundle Up, a fund raiser to help the less fortunate keep warm through the winter.

My “pre-lit” holiday tree is no longer pre-lit.  I’ve spent almost 6 hours and I’m still not finished removing the old lights.  I WILL finish tomorrow and hopefully will get the new lights on. I also want to get all the garland up, if not Saturday, definitely Sunday.

Moved all the the largest pieces of furniture out of the Parlor & Library, washed the floor and did my yearly paste waxing.  I must say, this is the best job I’ve done with the past wax.  The key is putting the correct amount of wax down, obviously, and I’m getting better at judging than and working the wax in.  I’m quite happy with it.  Next week, I plan on paste waxing the dining rooms.


So many remembrances on this date.  This is the anniversary of the founding of the Humane Society of the United States (November 22, 1954).  The anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy (November 22, 1963).  The original publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species (November 22, 1859).  Many others, but my last for today is the anniversary of the first China Clipper flight (November 22, 1935-the first transpacific mail service.)

What a wonderful day yesterday.  The weather was spectacular.  I pulled all my compost out and it’s MUCH better than last year’s harvest (my first).  Perfectly decomposed and it spread over my gardens like a charm.  I also got the last of my leaves raked up and chopped up with the lawn mower.  I got the other leaves I’ve already chopped and spread all of them over the gardens.  I gave the grass a final clipping before the winter, got the leaves out of the gutters and even got to watch the second half of the Steelers game.

I’m reading a really cute book, A Dog’s Purpose, A Novel for Humans by W Bruce Cameron.  It is written first person dog (ie it’s totally written as if the dog is writing it).  If you love dogs, you really need to read this book (particularly if you’re thinking of getting a puppy).

After feeding 14 guests b’fast this morning and doing my errands, I started bringing the holiday decorations down from Lady Palm and took the exterior garland apart and ran new LED lights and re-worked the ribbons and hung on the porches.  With the weather still holding out, I want to get the outside done.  (I’ve been out there hanging the garland in the wind, the rain and freezing temperatures).  I should be able to finish the outside tomorrow and then start on the Parlor/Libray.  I’ll get D to help me with the awkward stuff (the piano, Mellon bench and Library buffet stay in place) and get the floor washed and paste waxed for the holidays.  This weekend we should be able to get that finished and then next week do the same in the dining rooms.

I belong to Western PA Bed and Breakfast Association and am on the membership committee, so I took it upon myself to find as many Bed and Breakfasts in Western PA I could.  Besides our members, I found over 140 Inns!  I want to do some work on the “Welcome” package and send that and my list of potential members out to our current members to see if I can recruit some of them into helping me solicit new members.  I have done hard stuff done, locating the Inns.  My list has their names, address & phone numbers.  If I get ten volunteers, we would have less than 14 people for each of us to contact.  Not too big a job.

Well, I’m going so sign off for now,



Today is Mexican Revolution Day.  In 1910, the social revolution was launched by Francisco Madero.  It is also the anniversary of Edwin Hubble (1889) who discovered that the universe is expanding.  That’s why they named the telescope in outer space after him.

I’m in the Tribune Review today.  Feature writer JoAnne Harrop did an article on guest rooms, what non hoteliers need to know about setting a room up for visiting friends over the holidays.  She interviewed three bed and breakfast owners and made a nice compilation of our ideas.

It’s supposed to be a nice day today through Monday.  Sunny and warm today and tomorrow and warm and cloudy Monday.  I’m planning on pulling my compost out and spread it around the gardens and then cover that with my chopped up leaves for the winter.  It is fairly warm out there right now, but no sun.  It’s so much nicer working outside when it’s sunny.  OK, I’ll quit whining and be happy with what I have.  Tomorrow’s the Steelers play a home game, so I’ll be busy with that (I’m sold out last night and for the next two).   I’m planning on hanging my outside holiday decorations out on Monday (but I won’t turn the lights on until after Thanksgiving).

Up date on The Stone Manse Inn, they ran into a major snag on Tuesday (the day they were to close on their current house as well as the Inn).  The buyers of their current house couldn’t complete financing.  I don’t know if they are totally out of the picture at this point or not, but Myra & Phil arranged to have closing on The Manse next Tuesday.  Myra’s been reading and editing my manuscript and there’s a section called “So Do You Really Need Money”.  In it I talk about alternatives to your traditional forms of dealing with money issues.  Like if you don’t have enough cash and loans to complete a real estate transaction, maybe tap your sister and do it formally just like a loan and payments.  The nice thing here is you don’t need to leverage collateral like you do with a bank.  This leaves more collateral to get better terms from the bank.  I also talk about new Inns being room rich (empty rooms) and cash poor (empty rooms). So instead of buying ads to get your Inn known, why not work a barter deal with a local newspaper that brings people into town for various reasons.  Also, if you are only selling a couple of rooms on your good days, do you really need four bath towels in each bathroom and back up in the linen closet? Why not direct the cash you would have spent on all those towels towards something to get yourself known?  They took some ideas from my book and with relentless determination got a deal shoved through with the bank.  That’s what separates the men from the boys in owning a business.  When “opportunities” arise, you have to rise not to them, but above them.  And believe me, there will be plenty of “opportunities” owning your own business.  :)

I am definitely loving not having a cast.  I’m typing this with ten fingers (well, eight and two thumbs), not four fingers, a thumb and one finger on my left hand.  The stiffness in my left wrist and small finger knuckles is almost gone.  I’ve actually been tackling some minor projects that require two hands that I’ve been putting off for the past six weeks.

Finally added an amenity to the guest rooms I’ve been planning on for sometime.  The all have emergency flashlights next to their alarm clock radios.  Naturally, I got maglite flashlights.  I don’t know if you know the story of maglite, but it was founded by Anthony Magica, born in NYC, but moved with his mother as a young child to her Croatia.  After World War II, they came back and he started his company in LA in 1955.  He started his business doing precision work for the aerospace industry.  He went on to design his flashlight line in the 1970′s.  They have gotten numerous awards and recognition for the quality of their design and craftsmanship.  He’s adamantly American and when other manufacturers are building factories in foreign countries (with inferior products), he’s maintained his facilities here.  I think I heard on NPR that he hasn’t raised the price on his flashlights since their introduction.

Well, it’s about check-in time.  I’m going to go down stairs and get started on prep for b’fast waiting on my four check-ins.  I just saw a Just Ducky tour amphibian go down the street.  I thought they were closed for the winter.  They’re my preferred way to tour the city.  They also are a great company.




Sunday, I neglected to follow through with my new “procedure”, so I’ll do a post for Sunday and one for Wednesday.  For Sunday I have two, the first is it was the anniversary of the Apollo 12 launch.  The second was National American Teddy Bear Day.  Legend has it that in 1902, Theodore Roosevelt spared at bear cub on this day while on a big game hunt in Mississippi.  Political cartoonist, Clifford Berryman recorded this event.  Ever since, Pres Roosevelt was generally depicted along side a teddy bear and this started the American fascination with teddy bears.  Today is the anniversary of the opening of the Suez Canal, it opened on this day in 1869.   It took 1 1/2 million men to dig the 100 mile canal and shaved 6,000 miles off the trip from Europe to India.

Yesterday, they took the cast off !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  OMG, I am in heaven.  Doctor Schmidt was very happy with the healing.  The break itself has no discomfort, and basically didn’t other than when da boiz broke the bone.  But my wrist and the knuckles on my little finger are a bit sore.  Kind of like arthritis and I have trouble extending and contracting the small finger from it being immobilized in the cast.  It’s just going to take a little bit to get it back in working function.  I know Joy, I took a shower last night without a plastic bag and was able to wash my left hand and arm (no visuals folks, don’t embarrass me).  :)

So after having the cast removed, I headed out to Harrisburg.  It poured rain almost the entire drive out and about half the way back.  What a miserable drive.  It was coming down so hard, that water was splashing from the semi’s on both sides of the road and when I was passing a big truck, I had to focus on the solid yellow line on the left to keep in position in my lane (I know, some of you are thinking that I shouldn’t have been passing in that weather).  And then, in the construction zone just east of the Irwin interchange I hydroplaned twice.  Luckily, the deepest water was the first and I saw the car in front of me going through it and was able to slow down enough that I didn’t have any problems.   The second about 100 yards farther I was prepared for.

Why did I drive to Harrisburg you may ask.  Well, good friends of mine, Myra, Phil and Alex are buying a bed and breakfast today and I drove out for a preview.  What a fabulous Inn that is going to make.  It’s two buildings, the summer house in the back is the longest occupied structure in York County.  I believe it was build in 1730′s.  What cool space.  They are setting that up as a suite, living room with this HUGE ANCIENT fireplace on the first floor and the bedroom and bath on the second.  Beamed ceiling, rough cut odd sized flooring.  The main house also has a HUGE ANCIENT fireplace.  This one still has the iron kettle holder that swings over the fire.  It also has these cool shutters (?) that close it off so you don’t see the dirty ashes.  The main house will have their living space, and five guest rooms.  Typical of 17th century construction, all kinds of very cool quirks.  The Inn has very easy access from the turnpike and is close to lots of attractions.  It sits on top of a hill over a pretty large creek that we need to figure out how to capitalize on (sound and view).  This will be a regular feature here, the opening of The Stone Manse Inn.  I’m very excited for them.

Speaking of them opening an Inn, I realized something else I miss about the corporate world.  (If you remember, I whined about missing the expertise and camaraderie hospitality workers share.)  I also always enjoyed training staff.  I would always have some bus I was training to be waite staff, a supervisor I was training to be a manager, etc.  Helping Myra, Phil & Alex set up their first B & B is filling this void and I’m enjoying offering advise.  Now this is a lot different than training an employee, this is two piers and I need to be careful not to over step, but I’m sure if I do, they won’t hesitate to “put me in my place”.  :)

Talk soon,



Three major films shot here are opening in theaters over the next month.  “Unstoppable”, staring Denzell Washington opens next week.  “The Next Three Days” staring Russell Crowe opens next and “Love and Other Drugs” staring Jake Gyllenhaal and Annie Hathaway opens after Three Days.  This is in addition to the movie with Taylor Lautner (from Twilight fame-the werewolf) that was recently shot here.  The story is taken from a famous contemporary author (I don’t recall his name) that wrote a series of thrillers about the orphaned son of CIA operatives that is being chased by his parents’ nemesis.

Two more days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If the orthopedic surgeon doesn’t have my cast removed Tuesday, I swear I’ll take a saw and cut it off myself.  After that, I’m driving to Harrisburg to see Myra & Phil’s new Inn The Stone Manse Inn, opening in February, 2011.

I did the new presentation of my mushroom strata today.  Instead of making it as a casserole, I used my mini loaf pans and definitely like the presentation better.

One of da boiz favorite things is going for a ride in the truck when I do my errands.  When they realize what’s up next, they both jump up and down, run in circles,  etc.  I have been having problems with junior biting Razor continuously.   I holler at him and he stops and then starts biting Razor again.  This is a continuous thing of me constantly hollering at RJ as we walk to the truck.   So yesterday I got mad and put RJ in the Courtyard, locked the gate and took just Razor on the errands (we did this several months ago and RJ stopped this bad behavior for a good while and started doing it again recently).  Guess who was a good boy today when we went to do my errands?  I didn’t even have to holler at him once.

My friends at the Inn on the Mexican War Streets have had their holiday decorations up for a week already.  I haven’t had a chance to call Jeff and ask him what’s up with this?  I swear, before long we may as well just leave them up year round.  We’ve been doing our holiday cleaning.  Derronda has most of the first floor in good shape, I’m hoping to get the floors paste waxed next week and the decorations up the following week.

What happened to our morals?  I’m not talking about big corporations and politicians that I’m so fond of bashing.  I’m talking everyday people.  Skip & Christina (and Hunter) are relocating up here from Florida.  They found a house they love in a neighborhood they think they like.  They signed a six month lease with a right to purchase.  The man that owns the house and signed the contract had someone come by and offer to buy the house outright.  So he changed his mind.  The reason I’m bringing this up now is an even worse scenario was in today’s paper.  I’m so mad, that I’m going do do something I never do and use first and last names.  Cheryl & Mike Ickes are raising their 14 year old granddaughter who has a rare blood disease in Indiana County.  Tracey & Bill Kurnocks offered to GIVE them a house after hearing about these great people.  The Ickes spent money they didn’t have, had volunteers help them fix up the house and started moving stuff in.  Through much hoopla and press pictures, the Kurnocks handed the keys to the house right before Thanksgiving in 2008.  Then the Kurnocks CHANGED their mind and presented the Ickes with documents requiring a five year no sell clause (I’m OK with that) and a $72k mortgage.  The Kurnocks even had the Ickes arrested for picking up their possessions the Kurnocks put out for trash.  How despicable can people be?

To end this blog on a positive note, Jackie & Rob were here this past week for a few days from Virginia.  The reason they came to Pittsburgh is there’s a lady in Blawnox that has a retro jewelery store and Jackie & Rob just got engaged. Marlene Harris collects retro jewelery from all over, she also acquires various vintage molds and forms and creates new jewelery based on classic styles.

Well, that’s it for today, Go Steelers,



Today is Diwali, the beginning of the Hindu festival of lights that lasts five days.  It celebrates the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after a 14 year exile.

I did something pretty stupid today.  I was going up to Meadville (up by Erie) for the Western PA B & B Association meeting (I’m a member).  I’ve been wanting to go to the Wendell August Forge (more to follow), it’s up by Grove City (about an hour north) and decided that I would stop on my way back.  I had a fair amount of cash on me in case I saw something (s) I wanted to buy at The Forge.  Just as I got on I279, there’s a young guy hitch hiking and I stopped to pick him up.  I did look him over and he didn’t seem like he’d be an issue, but you never know.  I was mildly apprehensive and he turned out to be a nice kid.  Going from Cincinnati to up by Williamsport looking for a job. But apparently, I wasn’t the only one nervous.  WYEP no longer plays the news on the hour and I noticed it just past ten a.m. and my hand darted to the middle of the console to change the station to WDUQ and his hand darted down to his knee.  :)

So after the meeting, I did stop at the Wendell August store, right outside Grove City. Wendell August Forge is America’s oldest and largest forge, producing hand-wrought ornamental metalware and elegant giftware in aluminum and other metals since 1923. The company was founded in Brockway, Pennsylvania by Wendell McMinn August, who, at age 38, was active in the coal industry.

August engaged Ottone “Tony” Pisoni, a blacksmith in his coal mine, to hand-forge door latches for his home. Admiring the low cost and high quality of Pisoni’s work, August was inspired to start a decorative ironware business. Pisoni was joined by three more blacksmiths who handcrafted the first product line, including one-of- a-kind fireplace andirons, candlesticks, lighting standards, doorknockers, latches, railings, and grilles for windows and doors.

F.W. “Bill” Knecht, III acquired the company in 1978 from Wendell’s son, Robert August. Knecht operated the company until his death in 2004; the Knecht family still owns the company today.  There was a fire that pretty much totaled the business a year or two ago.  The community rallied around WA and helped them get back on their feet.  A neighbor, The Slovak Folk Crafts offered to share retail space in their store so WA could start bringing in some income.  They are still paired together and if you are around Grove City, or the outlets malls, you should stop in.  If for no other reason, to see the hand carved 17′ x 6′ x 8′ village with 82 moving figures.  It is the largest animated wood carving in America and is truly amazing.

Let’s start with my whining about the Pittsburgh anemic pension fund.  They have it about twenty percent funded and by state law, they need 50% funded by December 31.  The mayor proposed leasing our parking assets to a private firm (actually a group of two, one that would actually run it and the other is a big bank for the funding) for 50 years.  I think I said earlier, I am basically behind this option.  Not that I want to give up city assets, it’s that the Pittsburgh Parking Authority is so poorly run, why not give it to someone that can run it efficiently.  Yes, parking rates will increase, but these are business people, they are not going to raise the rates more than the market can bear.  I think this is what’s wrong with many things, we want something for nothing and are used to the government handing us stuff (like cheap parking).  City Counsel wanted to sell our parking assets to the Parking Authority.  Bad move, they can’t handle what they’ve got.  My question stems from the big fear of the state taking over the pension fund. There is this HUGE fear of this and everyone’s predicting dire consequences.  My BIG question is why can’t we get a quote of what this state take over is going to cost?   It seems to me these are concrete matters.  These aren’t variables like weather, amount of snow that’s going to fall this winter, etc.  We have so much money invested in various places, we have returns coming in on these investments, we have administration costs and we have bodies that are either retired or going to retire.  There are variables, different people die at different ages, returns on investments vary, etc.  But there’s actuaries and investment experts that should be able to give us a good idea of what it would cost.  I think we should make a decision based on facts and not scare tactics.

Next Tuesday the cast comes off (if it doesn’t drive me totally nuts first).  I think my finger is pretty much healed and I’ve gotten used to maneuvering around with the cast with many things.  But yesterday I put the Plexiglas up in the kitchens and laundry room and it was quite the challenge with the left hand in a cast.

Guess what?  It looks like I’m going to be in the Tribune Review next Saturday (November 20).  One of their fashion writers is doing a piece on guest rooms in people’s house with the holidays approaching.  she contacted me to see if I was interested in sharing my ideas on it and I said of course.  So she came by last week and we chatted and her photographer’s coming by tomorrow.  Watch out Martha Steward.  :)

I got myself in trouble with my neighborhood association again.  The city is finally installing the trees on Western Ave and started on the corner of Western and Brighton (the opposite end from me) and the trees are pretty small.  I sent out an e-mail commenting on their size and it was promptly pointed out to me that the trees were spec’d out and met those specifications.  If anyone wants to see some trees of a decent size the city just planted, go to the corner of Brighton and California.  Those are nice sized trees, ours are wimpy. :)

That’s it for now,




A milestone, I made garden quiche for b’fast this morning and was able to peal an apple for the parfaits.  I also was able to do all the dishes and prep things, more or less one handed.  The unfortunate part is I’m getting a little water where my cast crosses my palm and I’m getting a little bit of an odor.  I’ve been very good with showers and stuff, so the whole cast isn’t smelling.  I’ve known some people that got their cast wet and you really didn’t want to be in the room with them.  Ten more days!

I’ve never done cursive with my left hand, I’ve always printed (or something I call printing, others frequently call it illegible).  Printing with my right had has been a challenge, initially just forming each individual letters took time and concentration.  Now I have somewhat of a flow.

I went over to Calvary Methodist Church last night for their Soup Night.  It’s a fund raiser for the church and the food bank they hold the first Thursday of the month.  It’s run by my good friend Lisa from The Fabled Table.  She keeps telling me that she wants to start a blog, but Mike won’t let her.  Anyway, I ran into friends of mine there, Carl & Tim from Galveston Road and Greg from the Mexican War Streets.  I sat down with them and Carl said Tim reads my blog every day (that I post) during his lunch and complains when I haven’t posted in a while.  :)  If you ever get a chance to attend Soup Night, you definitely should.  Lisa always does a nice job with the food (nothing fancy, very inexpensive), but you also can go up and see the sacristy.  Calvary has three huge Tiffany stained glass windows and the interior was actually designed my Tiffany.  Which shows the money that was here then, that they could convince the premier jeweler of the time to design the interior of their church.  They’ve recently spend $5mil renovating the church.  The seat cushions are the original from the 1800′s.

Wednesday, the Warhol had a preview of their new show on Marilyn Monroe “Some like it hot, some like it cold”.  Quite the collection the Warhol owns on Marilyn and some very nice loaners from other collectors.  We came in and there was an introduction by the Carnegie’s Developer of Corporate Relations (I hope I got her title correct), Judy and her wonderful staff.  We then broke into three different groups that were lead by museum staff that explained the exhibit.  I was lucky enough to be in the group with the museum’s curator, Eric.  Very knowledgeable and interesting person.  He gave us quite the insight.  I knew Andy Warhol was somewhat obsessed with Marilyn, but he pointed out something some art experts propose.  Andy had been a struggling artist for years, tried a new pop art style and a contemporary had just done the exact same thing and Andy’s idea was immediately shot down.  That’s when he came up with the Heinz catchup bottle and Campbell’s soup can. These catapulted him to fame and he really pushed the envelope with his work.  He sort of figured that he was as successful as he was going to with art.  Marilyn’s popularity was exploding and he became obsessed with fame, hence his obsession with her.  They never did meet.  Interesting perspective.

We then went up to the newly reopened Penn Brewery.  They are again making their own beer on site and they carry a nice selection.  The staff are nice and the building is interesting.  They do need to work in their food though.  I’ve never been a big fan of their potato pancakes.  They haven’t improved and they were in a chafing dish and were actually cold.  This was a private party for a bunch of corporate sponsors for the Carnegie.  I’ve done tons of banquets (I was the Banquet Manager at the Crowne Plaza in Nashville and we did over $4 million a year in banquet revenue alone).  You want to treat all banquets as special, but when you have a bunch of corporate decision makers (and blogger s :) ) you really should be on your toes.

On my constant rant about corporate greed, I was happy to see Citibank shareholders up in arms about executive compensation.  I don’t remember if it was Citi or another big bank, whose CEO received $24M in compensation.  That’s just wrong.  and on a really weird one, Chesapeake Energy stocks dropped 5% after Reuters reported that it’s CEO borrowed as much as $1.1B against his take in thousands of company wells.  $1.1BILLION, what, he needed a new car?  :)

That’s about it for now,



Had a small wedding this past weekend.  It was catered by M Catering of Monroeville.  They did a real nice job, the couple from England wanted a Southern menu and it was a nice change.  Service and food was great and the guests had a great time.  The bride opted for a retro style in dress and music and even brought in a swing kind of band.   It was brilliant.

The dinner portion was over and I was in the hot kitchen making baked oatmeal for the morning’s b’fast when Rich, the owner of M Catering walked in.  He noticed my slicing knife and asked me if I went to P.I.C.A. (Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts) and I said yes.  He called Christian, his sous chef, in and we started talking, all three of us attended P.I.C.A. in the 90′s.  We started talking about the school, culinary and other things.  (One great idea was they serve a strata like I serve my baked oatmeal-I will be trying that out soon).  It made me realize what I miss about the corporate world.  One of the things I loved about working in the casinos in Atlantic City was the interchange of ideas among my peers.  In particular during those times, the casinos had deep pockets and gave us quite a bit of freedom in creating products to out shine our competition.  My peers and myself also shared an alternative life style of being busy when everyone else was off (and vice versa).  Most of my current circle of friends and associates are not “foodies” and work 9 – 5 Monday through Friday kind of jobs.  It’s an adjustment.

It’s started again.  Several months ago, my phone would ring and odd numbers would appear on my caller ID.  When I answered the call, no one ever spoke and the connected was severed.  This would happen twice a day, one at the same time in the morning and the other at the same time in the afternoon.  As long as I answered the phone, these calls kept coming in.  I quit answering these calls and they eventually quit.  This morning I got a second call (one yesterday at the same time) and is the last I will answer.  I wonder what this is all about, it’s too structured to just be a random occurrence, and with it stopping after I quit answering shows it’s monitored.

Phipps Conservatory is starting the third, and final, phase of their expansion this week.  First they did the lobby, then the Tropical Forest.  This latest expansion is going to be an environmental and educational center will take about a year to finish and the price tag on this is about $8M.  The purpose of the building will be for research and educational classes.  They naturally are shooting for a platinum certification from LEED.

I’ve been using the same mixture of unscented mineral oil and lavender for months now.  Months ago when I first experimented with this method of creating pleasant scents, I tried both this combination and vodka, distilled water and lavender.  The alcohol based mixture only lasted a couple of weeks.  The bottles of mineral oil mixture are still nearly full.  You just need to remember to keep turning the wicks every few days.  And they do give off a nice subtle scent.

I’ve been bringing  my outside plants in and finished yesterday.  Today, I’m cutting the elephant ears down and tomorrow Derronda’s going to help me dig them up.  It’s been going down into the low 30′s, upper 20′s on a regular basis and the cast doesn’t come off for a week, maybe two.  I’ve been getting more used to the cast and growing mobility with it.  I did a full hot American b’fast this past weekend and it worked OK.  Derronda’s a great help with prepping for b’fast and her and Alyce have been washing my pots and pans and even the dishes on slower days (busy days, I’m the one armed dishwasher operator).  :)

Speaking of mulch, which I wasn’t, :), I’ve been raking the leaves onto that brick patio thing in the grassy area of the Courtyard.  I then take my lawn mower and shred them.  It greatly reduces their volume and will aid in their decomposition.  Also, since it’s so dense, the wind doesn’t blow the leaves around like piles of leaves do.  I like it.

OK, pull out the soap box, the election is in tomorrow.  First of all, I think both democratic and republican parties are useless.  I lean towards a democratic bend, so if you have a problem with this, this is the last paragraph and you can stop here.  I have never voted a straight democratic ticket.  The gap between the rich and poor has significantly widened in the last eight years, and the republicans are kicking and screaming about Obama wanting to increase taxes.  He doesn’t want to increase taxes, he just wants to stop giving discounts to the rich.  On a state level, the republicans are saying Onorato wants to raise energy taxes.  He wants to tax a new industry that’s not being taxed.  The thing about elections that has bothered me for years is they campaign ripping their opponent apart instead of building a platform we can base an intelligent  decision on.  Now that the supreme court has opened the flood gates to blind funding of campaigns, this year is the worst I’ve seen.  The democrats are guilty of this as well, but the republicans or republican supporters are so out of control with the lies and twisting the facts that as much as I hate the thought, I’ve been thinking of voting a straight democratic ticket.  I would rather vote all the bums out, but if I vote that way and give the republicans both house and senate, we could end up in even worse shape. In two years, I haven’t seen the republicans offer any alternative to what Obama’s been pushing.  They just keep saying no, and they’re not even civil about it anymore.  I abhor the wall street and bank bailouts, but something had to be done.  I do believe the country was on the verge of financial collapse.  Was it the right thing?  I don’t know, did the republicans offer an alternative?  No.  I just heard a quote (which I’ve heard in the past) from republican chairman that their agenda is to take over the house and senate.  Why not have an agenda of pulling the country out of the mess we are in with a solution that’s a compromise?

OK, I’ll stop, thanx for bearing with me,